Locals want heritage tag for 400-year-old church



Ashley D’Mello TNN

Mumbai: Hundreds gathered at the 400-year-old St John the Evangelist Church at Seepz in Andheri (E) for the annual feast on Sunday.

According to Godfrey Pimenta, head of the Marol Citizens’ Association, an appeal has been made to the Centre and the state government to protect the church. Activists have sought removal of encroachments on the graveyard and beautification of Deol Talao.

“The state government should include the church in the list of Grade III heritage monuments,” said Pimenta, who along with former corporator Nicholas Almeida formed the ‘Save the St John the Evangelist Church Committee’ over a decade ago. The group has been fighting for restoration of the shrine.

A local, Aziz Amreliwalla, has also written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan seeking his intervention to ensure that the shrine is protected.

Pimenta, who has delved into the church’s history, said the shrine was abandoned in the 1840s, when an epidemic broke out in the area. The shrine’s history can be traced back to the sixteenth century when 500 people embraced Christianity in the area during the Portuguese rule. Jesuit missionary records show that in 1669, there was a parish in the area.

After the thanksgiving mass, a local band played Marathi folk tunes in the old churchyard. Villagers from Marol, Gundivili and Chakala attended the mass and wished each other to mark the occasion.

ANNUAL FEST: Activists want squatters to be removed and beautification of a lake nearby



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